In the first post I argued that software matters because it is the tool organisations have to encode information and knowledge so it can be effectively used, and that the firms being good at it will gain competitive advantage.

But computers have been around for decades, so what is it that have changed? The simple answer to that question is cost and performance. Thirty years ago, buying a computer was a serious business decision. The effect: computers was used only for the most valuable tasks at hand.

Today, computers are almost for free. Most of us have more computer power in our pockets than the one that was used to control the Apollo missions to the Moon. With the cloud offerings from companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and their likes, data centres have become commodities. Large organisations who have been running their data centres for years strive to understand this, while new companies exploiting it is started every day.

With data centres as commodities, competition, innovation and investment has moved from hardware to software. Competitive advantage is gained by being better than your competition in collecting data and to develop the software that transform your data into information and knowledge, and by doing so become learning organisations.

At the time of writing this is most visible for the Internet based businesses such as Facebook, Netflix and their likes. More traditional companies and industries will face the same race and now is the time where the actors positions themselves for the race.

So, what should firms do? Move your human resources away from tweaking computer hardware to writing high impact software.

2 thoughts on “Why software matters – from hardware to software

  1. I would also argue that hardware size is a major driver for the strong software evolution we see now. The fact that we’re now able to build devices at the size of pens and pennies that outperforms state of the art computers 30 years ago – both in cost, capacity, processing power and low electrical power consumption – is a significant cause for the extended use, and it will increase still.

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